Plot: After being framed for the death of his father, Kimo (Gregg Palmer) finds himself betrayed by his wife and sentenced to death. But before the new chieftain can execute him, Kimo swears a curse on those who have wronged him, then a dagger is plunged into his heart. Also implicated in Kimo’s father’s death are the Americans who run a local research station, as their doctor attempted to help the man, but the tribe’s witch doctor had already doomed him. This causes some friction between the natives and those at the station, but the researchers are determined to continue their work. As a little time passes, the the ground where Kimo was buried starts to crack open and soon, a growth rises above the ground. At first this growth is small, but soon it is larger than a man and this alarms both the natives and the scientists. The researchers want to examine the growth, as it could be related to some radiation exposure in the area, but the natives are convinced it is an evil tree spirit known as Tabonga. Dun Dun Dun!
Entertainment Value: Given the cold shoulder when it first released, From Hell It Came has picked up a cult following over the years and with good reason. The movies don’t often give us a killer tree and the monster suit in this one is so much fun, it was bound to attract genre fans. The story is all about the rise of Tabonga, but we also have a romance brewing, science is done, and a revenge tale unfolds. This is 50s atomic age drive-in fun, a silly story, some light romance, and a cool monster. The movie is brisk and has a short duration, so the pace runs well and never feels slow at all. As was the norm at the time, we don’t see much of the monster until the final act, but the movie lets us see Tabonga in all his glory then. All too often, these kind of movies hide the monster or only offer small peeks, but Tabonga gets a lot of screen time once he appears and his rampage is just a blast to watch. While the killer tree is the main draw, I also had fun with the rest of the movie, which plays serious and that only amplifies the entertainment. The scenes where the scientists have little to no reaction about a killer tree being real are hilarious, as the performances are so deadpan serious. If you’re a fan of classic horror, monster movies, or just super fun drive-in flicks, this one needs to be in your collection. All hail our lord and savior Tabonga!
No nakedness. We do get a shower scene, but of course, nothing is shown. A little blood is seen, when Tabonga throws someone down a hill and they’re impaled on some kind of stake. This isn’t graphic by any means, but it is cool to see even minor gore in a movie of this kind, I think. The dialogue can be a lot of fun, since the cast treats the material as serious and that leads to some ridiculous moments. I love the scenes where the research team realizes Tagonga is a living tree with a pulse, as they act as if they’re not surprised at all. They also know full well that he is a monster and will kill, but for some reason they want to bring him back to life. I also liked that we had a strong female character, who is content with following her dreams and refuses to settle down, though that seems to change by movie’s end. In terms of craziness, this is a movie about a killer tree brought to life by jungle witchcraft and 50s science, so its pretty wacky. Aside from Tabonga, who is epic level nuttiness, we also have a guy in a neckerchief, the worst screaming from a damsel in distress ever, and the joy of watching a lovesick man get put in the friendzone over and over again. This is silly fun from start to finish, a wacky 50s monster flick that more than earned its reputation as a cult classic.
Overall Insanity: 5/10